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Bill Farquharson

The Sales Challenge

By Bill Farquharson

About Bill

As a 30 year sales veteran, Bill has the perspective of a been-there, done-that sales rep in the commercial print arena. Following sales fundamentals and giving unapologetically "old school" advice, he writes and speaks in an entertaining fashion to make his points to sales people and owners who sell. "Bill Farquharson will drive your sales momentum."


It’s official. I am old!

I always thought you became old when you started having dinner for lunch and the high point of your day was getting the Double Jeopardy question right. But lately, I’ve heard myself say some things that qualify me for the “old” label.

For example, on more than one occasion I have heard myself say, “Hey you crazy kids. Get off my lawn!”

Suddenly, I’m Old Man Withers.

I think the turning point came recently as I was reviewing a letter that a young salesperson was intending to send to a prospect. There were rampant typos and the letter was replete with bad grammar. I’d share it with you, but you’d probably tear your eyeballs out like I wanted to do.

Now, let me stop here and make an important qualifying statement: By no means am I suggesting or implying that I use perfect grammar in my blogs, my Printing Impressions column, or while making out my shopping list for the supermarket. It doesn’t take a great writer to recognize a bad one. You just have to be, well, old.

Earlier this year, I was asked by my friends at Clemson University to deliver a webinar to some students who were taking a course in print sales. I was given free rein on the subject matter (which can occasionally be a bad idea!), but it was an unpaid gig, so I figured I couldn’t be fired.

I thought about the things that I wish I had known prior to beginning my career in sales. I talked about knowing how hard it is and what a great career sales can be. I talked about the power of diligence, and the skills necessary to be successful. But I also added one very important point in my Keynote (PowerPoint for cool people) presentation:

“Don’t leave Clemson University until they have taught you to be an effective communicator.”

I wanted these crazy kids to understand the value of proper English in written and spoken forms. Abbreviations might be fine for sending a text message, but there is no substitute for getting a point across by using the right words in the right order.

I was never much a reader and didn’t understand why until much later in life when I learned about ADD and dyslexia. I leave that to my kids. My youngest daughter, Madeline, is so well-known at our local library that her walking in the front door is akin to Norm walking into Cheers. I envy her patience and book sense. She is, as we say in Boston, wicked smaht.

Sales is about solving problems. Print sales is about offering the right communications solution for a particular need. Equally important in understanding that the problem is effectively expressing the value of your solution.

Steve Martin said it perfectly: “Some people have a way with words. Other people not have way.” Being an effective communicator is not a gift as much as it is an acquired skill. Relying on spell check will only take you so far in life. It’s important that you acquire the rest.

Bill Farquharson has way. His sales training program, The Sales Challenge, will drive your sales momentum. Go to for more information or call Bill at 781–934–7036.

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